Publishing Blog

Just Because You Can…

Posted by on Oct 4, 2020 in Writing | 1 comment

Last week, I sat down and wrote an oh-so-upbeat blog about writing things (books, articles, poems, etc.) and never getting them published. It talked about how not everything you write is going to, or should, see the light of day. The post talked about how I found a piece I started writing when I was ten, and how I’ve realized that it will never make it fully out of my head and onto paper, no matter how many times I try and have tried (believe me, in thirty years, I tried A LOT). It was my first real novel. It had a plot, a conflict, a resolution. The main protagonist was sympathetic. Heck, even the antagonist was somewhat sympathetic. It had everything it needed to create a good, solid story. And because our stories are pieces of us, I nurtured that piece. I spent years writing and rewriting. I put it on disk, the disk crashed. I put it on paper, the pages disappeared. I have one copy of it and I’m not telling where it is. The article was supposed to be a resolution that it would never be finished, and that was okay. Then, my computer ate my homework. I saved the document and Windows did an update and shut down. When it came back up, I couldn’t find the article in my files. I looked in the temporary files, my recent files, etc. I know I had autosave on, but I also know I saved it, but it’s gone. Somewhere in my computer is a sweet, nostalgic piece about accepting that not everything you write should be shared…And then I saw this…and this. Two different authors and possibly two different publishing houses (I didn’t look that far into it, the descriptions alone were enough to give me a headache) decided a love story where the doctor falls in love with the virus she’s trying to eradicate would be a great idea to publish during a pandemic. Let me repeat that there are two (possibly more) books about female doctors falling in love with a virus. Part of me is curious if there’s a book out there where a female doctor falls in love with the common cold or cancer, but the other part of me still wants to believe there’s hope for humanity, so I’m not going to go there. To me, this is the equivalent of women falling in love with convicted murderers and rapists after they’ve been convicted and are currently serving time. Yes, I know it happens, but it probably shouldn’t. When I was a teenager, just like most teens, I had mountains of angst. Some people drew, some people argued with their parents, I wrote poems and stories. They were awful. Some poems rhymed, some didn’t. Most, nearly all, were dark and depressive. When I was first dating my husband, I found them and tortured him by reading them to him while he drove home. The graveyard shift is torture enough, but he suffered through all the lousy poetry I wrote, and it kept him awake as he drove home from work. He must really love me to go through that. Now, does that mean I published them anywhere? Nope! I didn’t and I won’t. Sure, someone might buy a copy. I...

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Oh the Things You Can Learn

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in Weirder than Fiction, Writing | 0 comments

I love what I do. I don’t think I’d keep going if I didn’t, no matter how good the pay was. I have gone from working at one job I hated to taking a 2/3 pay cut and working at a job I loved before…actually, I’ve done that on multiple occasions and have never regretted it. However, I love writing, publishing, and editing, no matter how teeth-grindingly frustrating it can be at times, I still love it. One of the reasons I love editing is the fact that I’m constantly learning new things. There are several types of editors in the world: acquisitions editors, proofreaders, line editors, content editors, copy editors, production editors, etc. The list goes on, but I’m not talking about which editor you should choose, there are several blogs about that. Instead, I’m going to talk about bees. Yes, you read that right, and no, I’m not going to talk about how hard bees work, even though reading about them exhausted me because of all they do. Bees are particularly fascinating creatures. I’ve been fascinated with them since I had to do a report on them in third grade, but being a content editor for a book, I learned so much more about them than I previously knew. As a content editor, I have to verify facts, and I’ve learned some awesome things because of it.  I learned that the colors of the Aurora Borealis are dependent on the gases in the atmosphere, and that there are both northern and southern lights. But, back to bees. I thought I knew a lot about bees. After all, I’ve read a lot about them, but when I read the interview that Stephen Doster did in Georgia Witness with Thomas Dennard, I learned just how much I didn’t know about them. I learned that certain flowers only open for one day, and that bees will fly miles to get nectar. I also learned that bees use their bodies to control the temperature of the hives. I was hooked. How brilliant is that? A hive’s average temperature is 94 degrees and in order to keep it at that temperature, bees will fan their wings in the summertime to cool the hive down, and in the colder months, they will band together and vibrate, creating heat and keeping the hive at around 94 degrees even in cold weather. So, why am I talking about something completely off the topic of writing? What’s the take away from this? Read! It doesn’t’ matter whether the book is fiction or nonfiction. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading romance or horror. There’s something to be learned from every book, even if it’s what not to...

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Book Hangovers

Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

Oh, the book hangover, the dreaded day after staying up all night reading a good book until you’re a wreck the next day for work. Most of us have been there, drinking way too much coffee, too early in the morning to get to your day job and try to work while still traumatized by the characters in the book you just finished. And while you finished the book, the book wasn’t finished with you. You still mourn for the characters you loved in the book that may have passed under circumstances you never imagined. Heaven forbid if the bad guy wins or the book ended on a cliffhanger and the next book isn’t out yet. Yes, while the world continues to spin, it seems your private world is ending. As readers, this is what we want. We want characters that affect us, characters we can relate to, that we have an emotional connection to. As writers, we want the same to be said of our books. So, how do we do it? The answer is both simple and amazingly complex, easy and terrifying. We have to put ourselves and our experiences into the stories. As Robert Frost once said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” Simply put, if we don’t put our emotions into the book we are writing, if we don’t feel the words as they are being put on paper, neither will the reader. We can’t tell readers how to feel, they have to feel it in their souls. We have to put the words we’re uncomfortable with on paper. We have to put the action as we see it on paper. As writers, we have to put the hard stuff down. When writers truly write something, they are tearing away a piece of their souls and putting that on paper. That’s the way writers keep readers coming back for more. They give the raw pieces of themselves, their hopes, dreams, and fears away, and pray that it’s enough. Seems tough, doesn’t it? It is. But, the only people who ever said writing was easy were the ones who haven’t tried to...

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Do Your Research

Posted by on Feb 15, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

I know I seem to have a lot of pet peeves, but ninety-nine percent of them are focused on the one thing I love: the written word. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I love the written word. I love stories, I love new worlds and histories. I love meeting new characters, fiction or nonfiction. My library just keeps growing, and I hope it never stops. However, I’ve been reading a rash of books lately, well, it’s not just been lately, but I’ve finally gotten fed up with it, that have a copious amount of errors. I understand homophones and words that sound similar, especially in the day and age of dictation software. I sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) chuckle when I see exasperated when a person meant exacerbated, but please, for the love of all that is holy, do your research. If your main character, for example, is based on a true, historical figure, like Genghis Khan, please do not confuse him with someone like Atilla the Hun. I was recently reading a book about Genghis Khan and I had to put it down because the author spelled his name wrong. It seems crazy to do so for a single mistake, and I told myself this very thing, but then it was done over and over. The author either misspelled his name or didn’t capitalize it. The author had other dates and such wrong, so I stopped reading. Sadly, if I had not known the differences between what the author was claiming and what is historically known about him, I might be inclined to believe the author. So why is this relevant, you might ask? What am I trying to say here? Simply this: Make sure you get your facts straight or people will put down your book. If you are doing historical fiction, nonfiction, or fiction set in today’s world, get your facts straight. If you are writing science fiction or fantasy, make sure your world makes sense and don’t just say that magic is the reason for inconsistency or come up with a lame excuse as to why your characters or plot lines aren’t consistent. Getting your characters, plot lines, timelines, historical facts, or whatever else right the first time before it comes to publication will save you a lot of hate and discontent later on down the road, especially when you start getting one star reviews because people love to hate on stuff on the Internet. Do authors and editors make mistakes? Of course. We’re all human, nobody is perfect. However, getting a good editor, looking up facts, and verifying sources will go a long way to making your work enjoyable to others. It may help get you some extra stars on a review...

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Five Reasons to Use a Human Editor

Posted by on Jan 6, 2016 in Writing | 0 comments

Recently, there have been a lot of computerized editing programs cropping up, which is all well and good, but they can’t replace human editors. I read…a lot…and lately, I’ve found a lot of errors that could have been prevented by a human pair of eyes looking at it. I’ve been reading books that are rife with errors lately, and while that alone doesn’t prevent me from reading or continuing with them, it does make me think twice about picking up another one. The errors made, though, aren’t  errors in spelling, so they have been run through a spell checker, but they are errors nonetheless. Below are five reasons a human editor is better than a computerized editor: They know the difference between accept and except. Homophones are usually not caught by the computer because they are spelled correctly, but most will be caught by a human editor. Human editors know when you misspell something on purpose or spell things phonetically on purpose. A computer doesn’t. Human editors understand logical construction and consistency. I just saw a person’s last name spelled three different ways in a book. While a computer would let that slide, most editors would catch that. A human editor would catch if someone had a normal gesture and then used a radically different gesture for the same emotion another time. Human editors can ask clarifying questions and make the author think. If there is something an editor doesn’t understand or it isn’t clear to them, it’s almost certain readers would have the same issues. Those issues can be caught by an editor before it ever goes to print. Human editors can explain what they mean when they have editing remarks. Sometimes, an edit from a computer will say passive, but that doesn’t explain what passive is. Computers don’t know what “show, don’t tell” means, and they can’t tell you if there is a lack of clarity in the story, but a human editor can, and they can also explain how to fix them. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of what editors can do, it is a good summation. Please, also remember that human editors are, well, human. While they do help to catch things that were missed, help to clarify your story, help to make it more professional, etc., they will miss things. Each editor is different as well, so one pet peeve from an editor doesn’t necessarily translate to what another editor dislikes, so be patient, find an editor that has the same goals you have in mind, and try to enjoy the...

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Reasonable Suspension of Disbelief

Posted by on Nov 25, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

I know I’ve touched on this subject before, however, I feel I must revisit it. I was half-listening to two different movies “based on a true story”. The first was so ridiculous I had to turn it off. There was absolutely no way it could have been based on a true story. Real people don’t act like, don’t dress like, don’t talk like any of the actors in that movie (and no, I’m not naming the movie). If there was something that was true in the movie, it wasn’t readily apparent, and the ridiculousness of it had me rolling my eyes. I couldn’t even find it really funny. The second movie was put together better. They interviewed real people, not necessarily credible people, but eye-witnesses at least. They included footage of the events, voice recordings, etc. I had to laugh through part of it because the people being interviewed were over-the-top, and weren’t using safety precautions when on site at some old, run down places that could have had anything from lead to asbestos to mold. Here’s the thing: Even though both movies were over-the-top, the second one made me want to look up the facts about the case they were talking about. It made me curious as to the real story behind the “based on a true story”. The first movie? Not so much. Once again, this calls reasonable suspension of disbelief into play. The first movie seemed to be some college kid’s puerile fantasies of what he thought college women do when there are a bunch of them together without more responsible adults around. The acting was amateur at best, and I could see nothing in the movie that would have been based in fact. It didn’t take long, in fact, for me to turn it off. Reasonable suspension of disbelief will either have a reader putting your book down or continuing to read. Readers are smart. They understand the physical world, they enjoy something that challenges them, makes them think outside the box. However, there is a fine line between out of the box and unbelievable, and if you as the writer, cross it, your readers will stop reading. You’ve lost them. What does this mean to a writer? This means that if you are writing a story on Earth, whether past, present, or future, the physics of this world don’t change. We have gravity, solids, liquids, gasses, etc. If the main character is moving through any of these at super speed, we need to know why, sometimes even how. If you are writing about another planet, the physics of that world have to be set at the beginning and cannot be changed unless there is a good explanation…and it needs to be a reasonable explanation if it changes as well. Basically, once you have your world plotted out, stick to the physics of that world and don’t change it unless it is a pivotal plot point and you already have the how and the why plotted out too. One last thing about basing a book on Earth: please, please, look up the area, the history, and any facts pertaining to the setting of the book. Nothing will turn an avid reader off more than incorrect information in the story that is presented as fact, especially when the...

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Posted by on Nov 6, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

NaNoWriMo is upon us once again, and I encourage everyone who wants to write a book or has written a book to try it. The concept is crazy: write 50,000 words in thirty days or less, which averages out to almost 2,000 words per day. Crazy, right? There are plenty of excuses not to: no time, no energy, writer’s block, it’s just plain crazy. Here’s the thing: those excuses will always be there. There will always be something you deem more important, more necessary, less crazy, etc., if you let it. Your writing will never be a priority until you make it so. The concept of NaNoWriMo is exactly what comes from all the doubt, misgivings, and other priorities. Someone started the idea that a person could write a book length novel in a month if they just sat down to do it…and that person was right! Thousands of people, possibly more, each year participate and find out that you can, indeed, write 50,000 words in a month if you make it a priority. The first year I heard about it, it was almost the middle of the month. Could I still do it? It would be seventeen days of pure torture if I tried it. I was going to college and working full time. When would I ever have the time to do it? It was the middle of the month. How could someone possibly do 50,000 words in 17 days? What the heck would I say? For some stupid reason, I was determined to do it anyway. And I did. I started on the 13th of November, and every night after I got home from college, I would sit down in front of a blank page. It was teeth-grindingly frustrating at times. I think I pulled my hair out and had to make sure that I wore a ponytail for a few weeks, but in 15 days, on the 28th of November, I turned in 50,000 words and ended up with some really crazy stuff to use in my next novel. There is no monetary prize for winning, no reward other than a sticker saying you did it. You could certainly cheat if you wanted to, it’s based on the honor system, but that’s not the point of the exercise. It proved to me that I could do it if I put my mind to it. It increased my confidence that if I stuck to it, I could get it done, and if I could do that, I could do anything. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and do...

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Don’t Use a Big Word…

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

There’s a saying, “Don’t use a big word where a diminutive one will suffice.” It’s totally tongue in cheek, but it’s very true. Lately, I’ve been noticing people trying too hard to use large words, and it shows. I was reading a nonfiction book about marketing or some such, because I like learning new ways of doing things, and came across the word exasperate. Now, it’s one of my favorite words. I actually use it in sentences, usually to describe my husband. However, it wasn’t the word the author meant: the author was shooting for the word exacerbate. Now, there are several reasons this could have gotten put in incorrectly: maybe the author was using dictation software, or meant to type exacerbate and spelled it wrong so the word processing software corrected it, or maybe the author actually thought he or she was using the correct word. At any rate, I put the book down. I know, it sounds rather shallow to put a book down because of one mistake, and most of the time, it takes much more than one word to make me do that. This time, however, for whatever reason (I was in a bad mood, the editor in me was being a brat, I wasn’t that interested in what the author was trying to tell me in the first place), I put it down and couldn’t force myself to pick it back up. I read another book where someone was sweating so much her clothes were sticking to her body (as many characters in many stories tend to do) but instead of pulling her clothes away from her body, she pulled her clothes away from her bodice. Again, whether the author meant bodice, was just trying too hard, or whatever, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m still considering whether I’m going to finish that book. I kept reading, and found other errors of a similar nature in that particular book, where the word was spelled correctly, but it wasn’t the right word. Basically, the author was trying too hard to sound sophisticated and missed the mark. There are several books I’ve put down because of mistakes that I just couldn’t get past. In both examples, the author was trying to get something across to the readers, but wasn’t able to because they were choosing the wrong words. In both cases, smaller words or different words needed to be used. The lesson here? Use the right words. If there is a word that you’re not familiar with the definition, or you have a large word that you want to use it, but it doesn’t quite fit, get rid of it. Be merciless when it comes to your words. Read them aloud. See how they sound. Make sure they fit. There are very few things in a book more jarring than reading a word that doesn’t fit or isn’t the correct word. Does this mean all our mistakes will be caught? No. There is a human behind every publishing company, editing software, editor, and author. There are times that the word will be missed, or a phrase will be off. It happens, it’s life; but please, dear authors,...

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I Don’t Feel Like It

Posted by on Aug 23, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

I’ve been meaning to write, but I just don’t feel like it. Don’t get me wrong, I love to write. I love ripping out my soul and putting it on paper while it’s still bleeding. Putting it out there for the world to see is another story, but over the past few months, I just didn’t feel like writing. Most people will say, “Just push through it and do it,” and I tried. I stared at my computer for hours trying to think of something inspirational or noteworthy to say. Everything I thought of seemed trivial or trite. When you realize your world is ending, nothing seems good enough. I started a blog about content and stopped. I started another about dialogue. I hated it. I erased it, didn’t even save it for a later date. During this time, I learned a few things about my writing. Actually, it basically reiterated what I already knew: be genuine. If you force it, your readers are going to know. When you’re not genuine, readers aren’t going to believe you because you don’t even believe what you’re writing. I think we sometimes need to take the time to step back and re-evaluate what we’re doing. I know a lot of people who say to push through it, keep writing, the muse will come back, and that might be true. If you do that, just remember that the stuff you’re writing should be taken at the value it is: pushing through times of self-loathing, through the times of guilt about not feeling like doing what you love. It should be put in a folder for you only where you can either come back to it at a later date, or used as an example of what not to do or whatever. Not everything we write will or should be shown to the world. Just like feelings and thoughts, some things should be kept private. Did I write even though I didn’t feel like it? Yes. It was drivel. It was terrible prose from an overly-inundated mind. I deleted it…most of it. Once it was on paper and out of my mind, I didn’t need to see it again. Nor did I want to. Here’s what I want you to get out of this article: be genuine. If you can’t, keep going. Even if you don’t feel like it, get all the other stuff out of the way. Take a break. Come back when you’re ready, and hopefully, your readers will...

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Writers Understand This

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

I published this one a few years ago on my personal blog, but I still think it fits. Posted on 23. June 2013 Okay, so I went to bed around 4 a.m. I was editing after a full day of procrastination. Don’t judge me, it’s a process. Anyway, even with the lack of sleep, I sat straight up in bed at around 8 a.m. I’d had a dream that would make a great story and it wouldn’t wait four more hours to allow me to get enough rest to be coherent when I wrote down the idea. I knew if I went back to sleep, no matter how much I wanted to remember it, it would be gone, so that left me one of two choices: Either I get up and write it down, foregoing sleep again, or roll over and go to sleep, hoping (pointlessly), that I would remember it later. The funny thing about story ideas: If you ignore one, the rest seem to leave you too and you’re left looking through piles of old stories that you trashed along the way, hoping for some inspiration. I’ve been through a writing block that lasted years before, so, when the muse hits, even in the middle of the night, I now obey. I know what you’re thinking: “Why not put a pen and paper next to the bed? It’ll solve all your problems.” Yeah, I’ve tried that. I have another problem. I do a lot of things in my sleep that I don’t even remember. I hold perfect conversations in my sleep, I sit up, I troubleshoot electronic devices. Heck, I even eat in my sleep (so I’ve heard). I’ve learned that I do these things from my significant others. My sister used to take advantage of the fact I was nicer when I was sleeping than I was when I was awake and used to ask for things while I was asleep, knowing I would agree. I tried putting a pen and notebook next to my bed. Problem is, I wouldn’t open my eyes or turn on a light and wouldn’t realize it, so most of the time, what I wrote down wasn’t legible, much less made any sense. I tried a tape recorder…I’m still trying to figure out what’s on those tapes, because it sure doesn’t sound like me… I figured I’d get smart and use my phone. It has an app on it for creating notes…yeah, didn’t work much better. The bleary-eyed fully typed notes aren’t any more coherent than my notebook scribbles. So, what’s an author to do? I sighed, got up, went to my computer, typed the idea in, and started some coffee because I’m going to need...

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